The People research program will build on our world leading expertise in anthropology, sociology and media and communication studies to account for how people are implicated at all stages of ADM.

Utopian visions of ADM promise new levels of personalisation, control and choice in our future lives. Yet we still know very little about how ADM is really being incorporated, reinvented or resisted as part of everyday lives.

For example, in many countries, apps using ADM have been introduced to manage the spread of COVID19. While these apps can help contain the spread of the coronavirus, some operate to document and limit people’s movements and social encounters in ways that cannot easily be challenged.

There can be a temptation to view people simplistically as users or consumers of technologies, or faceless citizens or publics in our society. But by framing people in this way there is a gap in understanding how, where, when and why ADM might impact on and matter within the complexity of people’s lives: both in the present and in imagined futures.

The People program understands ADM in Australia within a global context, which involves accounting for differences and inequalities in the global South, North and places in between. For example, while self-driving cars are one of the most hyped technologies that use ADM, and they have been pitched as the solution to societal and environmental issues, it is unclear how these uses will be possible in countries or regions with digital and road infrastructures that are unprepared for them.

The People research program will examine: how people make, operate, and re-invent automated decision-making tools and processes; the relationship between human and automated decisions; how social inequalities, inequities and power relationships shape the design and uses of ADM; and the changes needed so that responsible and ethical automated futures can be best achieved.

To understand, influence and re-imagine the present and future of ADM, the People program will innovate new collaborative and creative research methodologies designed to understand the complex and changing environments through which people and technologies emerge together.

Inspired by social sciences, design, the arts and documentary practice, our new methods will reveal how ADM is already participating in and experienced as part of everyday life, how it is imagined in different and sometimes competing visions of futures, and how these futures can be better guided towards responsible, inclusive, equitable and ethical outcomes for society.